Considering that human’s spend most our waking moments communicating, in fact, one can argue that mastery of communication is synonymous to mastery of emotional intelligence, it is quite startling that we place little or no emphasis at all on the study of communication. . Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein wrote two books on language and communication where in a nutshell, he explained that language works by painting contextual pictures in our mind. He said the problem with communicating starts from the speaker who isn’t even completely sure of what he or she is trying to communicate. A typical example is when we say stuff like ‘I need space’. We cannot necessarily tell you what we mean in definitive terms, but we hope the person we are speaking to somehow get the picture. Then there is also the problem with the listener who can get ‘the wrong picture’. For example, someone might say, ‘You never help out around the house’. Our initial reaction might be to run through a list of all the things we’ve been doing in the house or cite other contributions we make in the relationship that we feel should exempt us from domestic chores. But really the speaker is just trying to say they are under a lot of stress and will appreciate more help around the house.
As relationships grow, and become more centered on managing emotional situations, the need for serious study into this field cannot be over-emphasized. Moreover, besides the need for good communication in a relationship, this life skill is transferable and will help in maintaining all forms of relationships: from friendships to family ties. You will be surprised how people miss calls for help, cries of feelings of abandonment or negligence, because of our inability to understand how communication works. It is only after things reach the point of no return that we start to look back and recall instances where we should have known something was wrong.
Unfortunately, there is something about African cultures that doesn’t generally encourage constant self-improvement by way of study. I guess you can say compared to other places, we don’t have a very strong reading culture. For a lot of men, self-improvement constitutes of the acquisition of wealth, and for women it is keeping in shape (forgive the generalization). If we hope to stand any chance in a world where we could even be suffering from a problem of over-communication with a million social apps on our phones, the least we can do is put some effort into studying how it works.
It is probably impossible to completely master the art of communication. We struggle with understanding ourselves perfectly as it is. Understanding others totally, is out of the question. But we owe it to ourselves to at least try as much as possible to first understand ourselves. Then through understanding our nature, we stand a better chance at understanding others.
Even in times of trouble, a communication skill like ‘conflict resolution’ can go a long way to calming down the situation.
There is also the communication of positive criticism. For example, you might want your partner to try a different look. Saying you dislike their current look then suggesting your favored alternative might be seen as communicating an honest opinion and you wanting better for them. But your partner is likely to translate this as an attack on their own sense of style, and you trying to be controlling by imposing what you think is best for them. You could have easily said something like: ‘I like this your style, but somewhere in my head I have this fantasy of you wearing X.Y.Z’.
You’d be surprised just how much of a difference good communication can make to your relationship and life in general. If you are considering the option of self-improvement, the art of communication might be a place to start.
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